Imagine moving to a new country. The stress of finding a new home, a new job, a new school for your kids, and new friends. Now imagine not being able to speak your new country’s language.
Some people might call me crazy. During a major economic downturn, why would I leave a full-time, decent paying union job with pension and benefits? That’s a big risk to take at 36 years old. Maybe I am crazy. After all, I don’t know if this is truly the right career path for me. But this idea has been at the back of my head for a long time.
Wake up. Get up. Go down rink side. Skate up. Suit up. Warm up. Game time!
The whole world watches men skate around, competing to put a puck in a net guarded by a padded wall of a human. Many have made a fine living following the puck, chasing it back and forth from one end of the rink to the other.
I was your typical cradle Catholic. I was baptised, had my first communion and my confirmation, and went to a Catholic school for my entire education. I went on religious retreats, you name it.
But something was missing. It felt… routine. Like a habit you get into. I’d heard of people who had this great feeling of love or peace whenever they entered the church. I felt none of that. I wanted to feel that.
Shortly after returning to school to study communications, I found myself co-ordinating volunteers for Arts on the Ave (AOTA), which runs Kaleido and Deep Freeze Festivals as well as the Carrot Community Arts Coffeehouse.
Volunteers are seriously the best, and some of the most generous people I’ve ever worked with. However, working with people who donate their time presents some unique challenges; recruitment, training and retention are ongoing challenges for many organizations.
Continue reading The realities of being a volunteer co-ordinator Reflecting on the joys and challenges of working with volunteers
When I first began volunteering, I was just beginning grade 12 and looking for ways to gain new experiences outside of what high school could offer. I found my first long-term volunteer experience with Catholic Social Services as a Homework Club tutor. I stayed with them for over a year.
The program was a drop-in academic help session for immigrant youth held every Saturday. It was an interesting experience because while my best subjects were Spanish and English, I began to lose my confidence in tutoring these subjects every time a question came up that I could not answer. I began to wonder about limitations in my own offered abilities and I started seeking different opportunities. Not every volunteer opportunity works out.
Continue reading Volunteering as an important part of life Meaningful volunteering starts with finding organizations that click with you
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with a group of teen moms for two years while doing research for my Master’s thesis. It was a time of just being and talking with them to understand their world. I did not maintain a “professional distance” with the girls; we became friends. We socialized together, I babysat for them, I had them over to my house, I attended their births and baby showers.
What I learned is that like everyone else, what these girls needed most in their lives were friends. They needed people in their lives they could talk to, depend on and have fun with. I was by no means their best friend, but I was someone in their circle of friends they could reach out to.
Community is built one connection and friendship at a time. One thing I’m mindful about is that while I’m quite outgoing, not everyone is. Part of my “job” in the community is facilitating connections. I love it. I’ve been immeasurably enriched, and I’d like to think my friends have been enriched as well.
I moved to the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood in 2006. I didn’t move here to be its savior. I moved here because I could afford it. The neighbourhood wasn’t even on my radar initially, but my then boyfriend (now husband) suggested I look here as he had previously lived in the area. My realtor said she wasn’t willing to show a single woman houses in this area so I got a new realtor and a new house. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! I love living here!
Sitting across from me at the Carrot, Alex shares a slideshow on his iPad. A year ago, he left a well-paying job to become a writer and photographer. It’s clear he’s still excited by his choice.
Okay, Alex didn’t exactly leave his job. His employers laid him off when the economy sunk. This cold shower awakening helped him hear his dreams shouting for attention.